Lessons learned from Van Gogh’s sketches

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Sheet with Sketches of a Digger and Other Figures – Van Gogh Source: www.wikiart.org

One of the things that can really impair one’s life is resistance. Resistance to change, to let go of being right, to jump into new things, new grounds, not paying too much attention to the discomfort and trying, anyway.

I’ve read the other day that we are very much creatures of habits. And it takes courage to break a habit, to wash off the old way of approaching things, to see from all angles.

Sketching has been a long struggle for me, and I know now that it has to do with resistance. Things shifted this week, as I started to dive into Van Gogh’s work, and the assignments for another Studying Under the Masters course.

Looking into some of his sketches at WikiArt, I’ve realised that he was also a master of composition, capturing his everyday life and turning them into timeless pieces to which we can still relate even after all these years. I’ve found that there are some very good and not so good ones. But he kept his eye on the ball, having a clear picture of what he wanted to paint. Through the sketches I can see how women kept themselves busy knitting, sewing and peeling potatoes; I can see how depressing hunger can be, how a hard labor combined with freezing temperatures can take its tool on the body.

While I was working on my sketches, I realised that I’m very drawn to the stillness of things. To the moment where objects are resting, either waiting to be used or to be discarded. I can see that more clearly in the photos I shoot.

So, I’ve started to sketch, trying to copy his mark’s style. It is not perfect, but I can see now why I need to practice.

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First sketch with pen.
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Another try on the marks
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A petrol station sink – from a photo I took on the road
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First attempt to get the marks on a portrait.

 

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